By Taye Obateru
Jos the capital city of Plateau State recently witnessed a frenzy as over 2000 students from various higher institutions enlivened the city with colourful displays. Apart from exhibiting their talents, the students also had a chance to learn from experts, interact and test their capabilities at an international film festival. The maiden edition of the International Students Film Festival was a collaboration among the University of Jos, University of Lagos and the National Film Institute, Jos with support from World Bank’s Step-B Project.
With the theme, “Moving Images: Talking Peace” which was designed to enhance students’knowledge in practical skills in film and other areas of multi-media studies, drew participants from within Nigeria, the West African sub region and India.
Held at the National Film Institute, NFI, Jos, the film festival took the city by storm as participants regaled the city with colorful parades in form of a road show. Apart from affording students who made entries to compete in various categories, participants enriched their knowledge in various aspects of film making at the Master Classes and other sessions during which experts in film took them through various modules.
A pre-festival press briefing by the Managing Director of the Nigerian Film Corporation, NFC, who is the Chairman, Governing Council of NFI, Dr. Danjuma Dadu, gave an insight into what to expect as he reeled out the objectives of the festival. According to him, the four-day festival was to expose students to international standards on film production, foster interaction with industry professionals, improve skills through Master classes, reward excellence and promote best practices.
The opening ceremony was colourful with performances by various groups, including the UNIJOS Cultural Dance Troupe and speeches which set the tone for subsequent sessions. Vice-Chancellor of University of Jos Professor Hayward Mafuyai, while describing the festival as timely, challenged film makers to project integrity and other values that can positively transform the country. He believed that Nigeria had what it takes to be among the best in the world in film making.
In a joint message, the festival directors, Dr. Tor Iorapuu who is Head, Department of Theatre and Film Arts, University of Jos and Mr. James George of the National Film Institute described the festival as one of the most significant aspects of the World Bank STEP-B tripartite partnership for the Centre for Excellence for Multimedia Technology and Cinematography involving the three institutions.
According to them: “The theme of the festival: ‘Moving Images: Talking Peace’ makes the gathering more apt. But even more significant, is the choice of Plateau State.
“Getting students to creatively engage with topical and sometimes difficult issues such as conflict, peace building and terrorism, or even social trends using such medium as film, only aim at stimulating their creative capacities. In this manner they are also contributing to ensuring a peaceful environment for themselves.”
President of Marwah Studios, New Delhi, India, Dr. Sandep Marwah at the pre-festival briefing said it was one of the best ways to promote peace in the world, expressing pleasure for being in Nigeria which he said had become the second largest film producing country in the world. “I have always believed that films are the ambassadors of any country. They are the best source of national and international relations,” he stressed.
Marwah in Masters Class later, noted that the aim of making movies is for business and passion for the job. He said Bollywood (the Indian Film Industry) had become number one in the world because of the large population patronising films. He said about 15 million Indians watch cinema everyday while more than three and a half million people work in the Indian film industry. Former NFC Managing Director, Dr. Hyginus Ekwuazi, in a presentation, identified piracy and lack of censorship as the major challenges facing Nigeria’s film and sued for more actions to enable the country achieve her potentials in the sector.
The climax of the festival was when the six-member jury came with their verdict for the various entries after they had been viewed by participants. Chairperson of the jury who is the Director, Centre for Women and Gender Studies, Unijos. Professor Irene Agunloye who announced the results said 130 entries were assessed in different categories. The best sound track and best directing was awarded to an entry entitled “Kenya”, an eight-minute short film by Daniella Esua of the NFI. “Beauty is Too Small” by Kelvin Luther King (Jnr) won the best cinematography just as “Let It Rain” by Samuel Bature of NTA TV College, Jos emerged the best music video. The best short film went to Miriam Kwairanga for her entry,entitled “Forlorn”. Other members of the jury were Professor Egwugwu Illah, Professor Samuel Kafewo, Dr. Sandep Marwah, Femi Odugbemi and a journalist, Shaibu Husseini.
Another significant aspect of the festival was the online streaming of proceedings by the Unijos ICT Directorate which made it possible for those unable to attend to follow all that happened. A participant, Mr. Adams Ijah of the University of Jos said it was a unique opportunity to learn from the best minds in the industry.
He called for more of such forum to give upcoming film makers opportunities to broaden their horizon and relate the theory being learnt in school to the reality in the industry. Many other participants told Vanguard Features that it was a worthwhile festival as they benefitted immensely from the various sessions.